To say that John Hunter Nemechek had an eventful Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway could be argued as an understatement.
After starting fourth, Nemechek worked his way up to second and was battling with polesitter Sheldon Creed for the stage one victory on the final lap. After clearing Creed for the lead, he overdrove the final corner, allowing Creed to slip under him and take the stage win out from under Nemechek’s nose.
In stage two, Nemechek slipped back to third after Justin Allgaier got around him, but both cars, as well as those of Parker Kligerman, Cole Custer, and Jordan Taylor seemed to be faster than Creed, as all six cars were within two seconds of each other at one point.
On the last lap, Nemechek was able to get around Allgaier and again found himself behind Creed for the stage win. However, Nemechek overdrove the final corner again, this time making contact with Creed’s right rear and spinning the No. 2 out.
Unfortunately for Nemechek, the contact cost him his momentum and Cole Custer utilized a crazy side-draft on the frontstretch to take the stage two victory, in a role reversal of their infamous 2016 finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – only without riding the wall or tackling each other.
So not only did Nemechek spin out the leader, but he came up empty-handed. Definitely not a good look. Unsurprisingly, the driver he took out was not too happy with the contact.
Creed was able to rebound to finish sixth in the stage, as the top six had almost a 10-second lead over seventh on back, but was irate over the radio, threatening to junk the No. 20 when he got back to him.
He didn’t junk him, but he certainly retaliated.
In the final corner on the first green-flag lap of stage three, Creed hunted down and punted Nemechek almost the same way Nemechek did Creed. Much to the surprise of everyone, Nemechek accepted the outcome, saying that he knew it was coming, despite his crew’s anger toward the situation.
However, with 15 to go, his teammate Sammy Smith, who had been battling shifter issues since lap 1, got into turn one way too hot and all but cleaned out the No. 20. Nemechek didn’t take to that contact as kindly.
When both drivers re-joined the racing groove, Nemechek sideswiped Smith’s No. 18, sending the latter off-track again. Nemechek then got on the radio and proclaimed his intention to fight his teammate after the race.
After all that, Nemechek somehow managed to battle back to finish 10th. Creed finished seventh, while Smith finished 30th. After the race, Nemechek held true to what he said on the radio, as he went over to Creed’s No. 2 to talk things out, and the conversation ended with a fist-bump.
“He came and apologized, and I got even on the racetrack so I have nothing bad to say about it,” Creed said of the conversation after the race. He also said that what happened on-track at Portland won’t carry through to future weeks.
While the result was above where anyone thought the No. 20 would finish, including probably himself, Nemechek, as well as Creed and Smith, are looking forward to Sonoma Raceway and putting Portland behind them.
The Xfinity Series heads to Sonoma for the first time on Saturday, June 10. Coverage for the DoorDash 250 begins at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
About the author
Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. He co-authors Only Yesterday (Wednesdays) and Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the site's primary Truck Series reporter and writer, and contributes to SRX coverage, too. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is currently pursuing his master of journalism at Temple University. He is a theatre actor and fight choreographer-in-training outside of Frontstretch. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.
You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.
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